NEW YORK: A-list stars Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett joined hundreds of mourners at the private funeral Friday of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of an apparent heroin overdose.
Actors Ethan Hawke, Joaquin Phoenix, Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams — the former girlfriend of Heath Ledger, who also died of an overdose — also braved the New York chill to attend.
The 46-year-old Hoffman, who appeared in dozens of films and was hailed by many as the finest character actor of his generation, was found dead on Sunday at his rented Manhattan apartment.
The service, closed to members of the press and the public, lasted for around an hour and a half at the imposing Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue in Manhattan.
A black hearse drove up to the imposing entrance of the church and pall bearers carried the coffin up the steps at noon watched by Hoffman’s partner Mimi O’Donnell and their three children.
O’Donnell carried the couple’s youngest child, five-year-old Willa, in her arms. Their eldest, 10-year-old son Cooper, wore a white shirt and tie and stood alongside his mother.
On the way out of the church, seven-year-old daughter Tallulah tried to hide behind her mother as if to avoid the long lenses of the photographers camped on the opposite side of the street.
Dozens of cameramen and reporters lined the road outside the church, which also held the 1994 funeral of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the wife of assassinated US president John F. Kennedy.
A public memorial service is expected at the end of the month.
Hoffman won an Oscar in 2006 for his portrayal of author Truman Capote in “Capote” and earned three further Academy Award nominations as best supporting actor in 2008, 2009 and 2013.
The results of an autopsy on Hoffman’s body on Monday were inconclusive and medical examiners are awaiting the results of further tests to determine the precise cause of his death.
Police said Hoffman was found with a needle in his arm, and there were 50 envelopes of heroin, syringes and other pills in the apartment.
Three people have been arrested and charged as part of the investigation into Hoffman’s death.
The actor, who struggled with fame and addiction, admitted to falling off the wagon in 2012, after two decades of sobriety, starting with prescription pills and escalating to heroin use.
He was last seen on Saturday and O’Donnell raised the alarm when he failed to show up to see his children as planned early Sunday.
She was quoted by US media as saying he was high when she last saw him and spoke with him on Saturday.
Hoffman had been cast as game master Plutarch Heavensbee in the final two instalments of the blockbuster “Hunger Games” series but had one final week of filming and a crucial scene to finish.
The Hollywood Reporter quoted a source close to the project as saying there are plans “that don’t seem very complicated” to complete both pictures without Hoffman.
“You can do digital things, you can have conversations where you’re not focusing on him but the people he’s talking to,” the source was quoted as saying.
Rob Legato, a veteran effects supervisor, said technology is most likely good enough to generate a convincing image of Hoffman, though some scenes might need to be rewritten.
“I won’t say you could generate a Philip Seymour Hoffman with all the acting ability, but you could certainly replicate him for a shot or two,” he was quoted as saying by the Reporter. AFP